The County of Hawaii’s Planning Department is located in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii and is responsible for gathering information to assist Planners in evaluating factors pertinent to land use on the Big Island and to provide technical advice to the Mayor, Planning Commission and the County Council on all planning and land use matters. The Department is also in charge of Subdivision and Zoning Codes. Within the Planning Department is the Long-Range Division which handles Legislative Review and Testimonies, General Plan Amendments, Code and Rule Amendments, Community Development Plans, Ordinances and Resolutions, The Land Use Inventory and Consultant Services Contracts.
Managing land use responsibilities involves dealing with a lot of documents. Not only did the Planning Department require a quick and easy way to access and retrieve their documents, they needed to be able to link all related documents together so they could access all pertinent information at the same time.
After networking with other County departments, the Planning Department decided that Laserfiche would be the best solution for their business process requirements. Some of the deciding factors included how seamlessly Laserfiche integrates with Microsoft Office applications, how quickly and easily it can be incorporated into the existing system management infrastructure without a major investment of programming time, the fact that the system can grow with their organization to easily accommodate new departments and an expanding workforce, and ultimately, how easily and quickly information can be shared. Laserfiche was able to maximize efficiency, productivity and profitability for the Planning Department.
“Laserfiche has eliminated manual searching for hard-copies of correspondence”, said Cathy Stehman, Clerk III in the Long-Range Division of the Planning Department. “The best part is having the ability to know where a file is in the process by giving us the ability to search and access documents at any point in the process”, Cathy said. It has eliminated costly errors associated with manually processing paper such as misfiling or losing records altogether.
Laserfiche is being used by the Long-Range Division to manage permits and related correspondence. Incoming correspondence are scanned into Laserfiche and dropped into the Long-Range repository Cathy built from scratch to store all correspondence relating to permits belonging to her section. At that time she then updates the metadata with additional information that she can view at-a-glance to see who is working on that particular file. In Laserfiche, she combines all related permits to this file by creating a short-cut which connects the files together as cross-referenced documents. She also scans signed letters into a file she created and mails out the signed letter immediately. Laserfiche even catches numerical errors before the hard copy is mailed out. When she scans the documents into the appropriate folder in Laserfiche, the numbers have to match. If they do not, she can then show it to the Planner for corrections. “I love Laserfiche for doing this”, Cathy said.
“I live in Laserfiche and it seems to have become my world”, Cathy said. “Personally, I never go to the hard copy file, I always use Laserfiche first to find necessary correspondence. Laserfiche is wonderful and I only wish everyone would use it.”
Cathy really appreciates the fact that documents can be emailed directly from Laserfiche as either a link to internal users who have access to Laserfiche or as an attachment to recipients who do not have Laserfiche. It removes the obstacles of sharing information.
Not only is Laserfiche less expensive than the previous system, the amount of physical labor required to index the documents decreased substantially. “We can access our documents and records management issues effectively and within a shorter time frame using instant retrieval”, Cathy said.
She describes Laserfiche as a pragmatic cost-efficient solution with the benefits of Laserfiche content and business process management distributed throughout the organization. And, because Laserfiche simplifies many business processes, employees work less overtime, experience less stressful situations, and are generally healthier and happier.
The goal for the Planning Department is to educate all staff on how to use Laserfiche most effectively. To have users know that they can travel from workstation to workstation and be able to access the information stored in Laserfiche at any location empowers staff to use their time more efficiently.
“I like the fact that being away from your desk you can still access and retrieve documents that you may be discussing in a meeting”, Cathy said.
For organizations contemplating the use of a Document Management System, Cathy encourages them to “not be afraid of using and experimenting with Laserfiche as it is very user-friendly. Try it, you’ll LOVE it”.